Cuba blocks visit from Rep. John Katko, delegation from Congress
By Mark Weiner | email@example.com, The Syracuse Post-Standard
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cuba has denied visas to U.S. Rep. John Katko and a delegation from the House Homeland Security Committee that wanted to visit this weekend to inspect airport security.
Katko, chairman of a subcommittee on transportation security, said Friday that the congressional delegation visit was called off at the last minute after the Cuban government blocked the trip.
Katko, R-Camillus, and members of the congressional delegation wanted to assess security risks at Cuban airports before the start of daily commercial air service with the United States later this year.
‘We tried for over a month and a half to get visas, and we couldn’t get them,” Katko said in an interview Friday.
Katko said his delegation had planned to visit airports in Havana, smaller airports in other Cuban cities, and stop at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.
At a hearing last month, Katko and other members of the Homeland Security Committee questioned whether proper security screening equipment and procedures will be in place before the start of more than 100 roundtrip commercial flights per day with the United States.
“Our job is to look at last point of departure airports around the world, and they’re not letting us do it,” Katko said Friday. “Some experts believe Cuba could become a gateway to the U.S. for terror suspects from Europe. But they’re not even letting us take a look at their airports”
Katko and House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, have said they felt stonewalled by U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials who declined to answer questions about the security capabilities of Cuban airports.
The House members wanted to know if Cuba had adequate body scanners, explosive detection equipment, and the ability to screen for fraudulent passports or IDs. The committee also wanted to know if federal air marshals would be allowed on flights to and from Cuba.
Feature continues here: Security Visit Blocked